Montreal’s public transit company will spend the next three years expanding its use of e-business software to create a single, integrated IT platform.

The Société de transport de Montreal (STM) Monday said it had chosen from SAP as the software of choice for its 1,400 technology users. The company, which is the city’s 14th largest firm, said it will use to turn its unstructured data into useful information that will streamline business processes.

STM executive director Jean-M. O’Hearn said the organization has already been using SAP products for finance, payroll and human resources but wants to integrate various disparate systems. It had to upgrade its 15-year-old financial systems to cope with the Y2K problem.””We decided to go further and finish what we started,”” he said.

O’Hearn said the project would be completed in one-year phases that would bring incremental benefits to the organization.

“”It’s still a long run,”” he said. “”We have all the maintenance to put on the We have also the material procurement to complete, we have some part of the operation systems we’ll have to integrate.””

STM used some SAP consultants in its first upgrade, but O’Hearn said apart from coaching on specific areas, most of the remaining work will be handled internally. “”We have developed the expertise as we went on,”” he said.

The main lesson STM learned from its initial implementation was the impact technology could have on the day-to-day operations of its users, O’Hearn said.

“”We have to manage all the change SAP brings into the business, and it’s major,”” he said. “”It’s not only bringing in some computer systems. It’s really changing the way you work.””

For example, payroll clerks used to have employ staff to double-check their numbers before payments were processed. Now they must make sure they have proper numbers before they enter them into the SAP system, O’Hearn said. “”They have to be responsible for what they’re doing, and it’s a major change for them.””

SAP Canada president Michel Brisson said communication from the top is extremely important to ensuring employees roll with IT upgrades.

“”When there’s an executive sponsorship into it which basically explains the business change, it makes the employee involvement quite different,”” he said. “”The private sector usually has the ability of taking changes more willingly than in the public sector — the public sector has a bit more resistance — but somewhere, somehow, we’re seeing most of the people in the public sectors trying to define better ways of doing things.””

Other Canadian public sector customers include Canada Post, while private sector clients include finance services company Le Groupe Promutuel, also based in Montreal.


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